Never one to box herself into a specific form, Laurel Halo has shed skin and added new wrinkles to her chameleonic practice with each release. After wowing audiences with a first EP in 2010, she debuted a new pop persona on 2012's Quarantine, only to chase it with a series of instrumental releases. Now, on Dust, Halo returns to the abstract pop of Quarantine, this time joined by an expansive cast of collaborators as she forges unexpected stylistic intersections throughout.
Nabbing vocal and instrumental contributions from the likes of Craig Clouse ($hit & $hine), Julia Holter, Klein, Eli Keszler, Lafawndah, Max D and Michael Salu, Halo is up to her neck in talent management here, but she bottles her myriad sources with masterful efficiency, deploying variations in warp-seamed gestural bursts and tapping into guests as prisms through which to refract beams of rainbow light. No collaboration point is too overstated or overstays its welcome; Halo deploys them as fleeting clouds of perfume inflating passages just as long as the inspiration lasts, then allows whatever comes next to take hold.
A more challenging and elusive listen than the felted atmospherics of Chance of Rain or In Situ, this is Halo at her most artful and poetic. Dust unfolds in playfully disoriented soul visions, flattening time, space and the genre playing field itself, punching the plane up with Swiss cheese worm holes and digging into whatever comes through and grips you; "First love / Best thought," Halo sings on lead single "Jelly." This is an exercise in automatic feeling, consistently dedicated to the moment. (Hyperdub)